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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C Homily

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 9:13-18b
Philemon 9-10, 12-1
Luke 14:25-33
September 8, 2013

“Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?”

These are the opening words of our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom.  They are also words that we might relate to very well when things don’t go the way we want.

When tragedy happens, when great illness comes, we wonder why the Lord allows such things.  Often such things don’t make sense to us.  Why are there diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s?  Why is so much violence in places like Syria?  Why can’t I find a job?

I don’t know.  I don’t have all the answers.  We face a struggle between what our body seeks and what our soul seeks.  None of has all the answers.

What we do have is faith.

In faith, in Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and are sealed with the Spirit at Confirmation.  The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, and fortitude.

Knowledge helps us to know things about God and faith.

Understanding helps us to go beyond simple knowledge to find meaning.

Wisdom helps us see a bigger picture.

Counsel helps us to make good decisions.

Fortitude gives us courage and strength to actually do what is right.

We can ask ourselves if, having received these gifts of the Holy Spirit, do we always make right decisions and do what is right.

We would love to say yes but we are not perfect.  Even with these gifts, we make mistakes.  We don’t always understand.

What don’t we understand?  Well, for instance why is Jesus telling us that we must hate our parents, our siblings, and even our own life?

What ever happened to love thy neighbor?  Wasn’t it Jesus who told us the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor?

Then how do we make sense of Jesus telling us to hate our family?

The scholars tell us that the word used in the original Greek, is not “hate” as we might think of it today.  Rather, they say it signifies a lesser degree of love.

This makes some sense, if we love our neighbor and everyone is our neighbor that there is no one to hate.

Of course, we could then ask the question, if the Greek word really doesn’t mean “hate” as we think of hate, then why didn’t they use another word in the English translation of the gospel?

It’s not easy to understand.  I could really use those gifts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom right now!

Maybe “hate” is a good word to use.  Doesn’t hearing Jesus say “hate” make us think?  What is our reaction?

Do we say to ourselves it doesn’t make sense and ignore it?

Do we think about what the word “hate” means to us?

Do we think about what the word “love” means to us?

Do we think about what it means for us to love God compared to loving our family?

Do we think about our faith at all?

Jesus turns to a parable about one preparing to build a tower and one preparing for battle.  The leaders take the time to think about what they are getting themselves into.  Do we take the time to think about what we are getting into?  Do we think about what it means, what it takes for us to be Catholics?

The good news is we do have what it takes but only because Jesus has given it to us.

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